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Debate Watch: Presidential Candidates Urged To Make Great Lakes A Priority

National Park Service

Wisconsin News Connection is here.

MADISON, Wis. - Democratic White House hopefuls will square off againthis week,  and they're being asked to explain how they plan to protect Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes.

More than 160 groups are part of the Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition, and they delivered a platform to the candidates.

Coalition Director Laura Rubin said they will be listening closely tonight because they want to hear the candidates' plans to enforce clean-water laws and support funding for Great Lakes programs. She added that families, communities and economies in the region depend on healthy water.

"There is not a single issue in this election that is more important than the fact that in 2019 in the United States of America, there are millions of people who do not have access to clean, safe and affordable water for themselves, their families and their children," Rubin said. "That is unacceptable."

The Great Lakes are the drinking water source for more than 30 million people, in Wisconsin and eight other states.

Ezra Meyer, water resources specialist with Clean Wisconsin, said the lakes face serious threats, including toxic P-FAS contamination, sewage and invasive species.

"We're really concerned around the Great Lakes that the Asian carp species making their way up the Mississippi River don't make their way into the Great Lakes," Meyer said. "And there are some places around Chicago and other parts of the Midwest where it would be pretty easy for those fish to make their way into the Great Lakes if we aren't really vigilant."

The Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition platform called for candidates to support $475 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, triple funding to fix drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, and uphold, enforce and strengthen clean-water protections.

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